Monday, December 10, 2018

Same old problems for Liverpool at Swansea

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 23 Jan 2018

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Liverpool on their day can give most teams a game, just ask Manchester City. However, the Reds also have a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot at the least expected times, like against bottom of the table Swansea on Monday night.

Nobody gave the Welsh side a prayer of a victory. Liverpool headed into the game on the back of a 19 game unbeaten run in all competitions. However, Liverpool contrived to lose 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium, a 40th minute Alfie Mawson effort enough to give Carlos Carvalhal’s side victory.

Liverpool still cannot defend set pieces

It was typical of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. Against Swansea, the Reds once again showed their vulnerability at set pieces. However, it was new signing Virgil van Dijk who was culpable for the goal, failing to clear a set piece and gifting the Swans the only goal.

This has been a weakness for a long time for the Merseysiders. No matter what players Klopp picks in defence, his team struggle against corners and free kicks. The Reds struggles on set pieces are common knowledge.

That vulnerability on set pieces is part of the reason why Klopp decided to bring in man mountain Van Dijk into the club. The Merseysiders paid a world record fee for a defender to sign the Dutchman.

However, it was slightly ironic that it was a Van Dijk mistake that led to the only goal of the game on Monday night. Expecting the Dutchman to win everything in the air is a bit optimistic.

He may be a big guy, but he is just one player. Surely, Klopp has looked at the way his team set up defensively on set pieces and attempted to change it. If not then the German must take a big slice of the blame for the Reds defensive frailties.

Liverpool forwards had an off day

Some critics have claimed that Philippe Coutinho’s absence was the catalyst for Liverpool’s failure to break Swansea down. However, while Brazilian is a very good player, I just believe it was a rare off day for the Liverpool forwards.

It is not often that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino endure an off day. They are human and I am sure Liverpool fans will forgive them this one time. The Reds are the second top scorers in the Premier League, so they usually do their job pretty well.

I have a feeling that one or maybe all of Salah, Firmino and Mane will enjoy a rest this weekend, as the Reds host West Brom at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round. Maybe they are slightly fatigued after a long season of frenetic football.

Liverpool still looking good for a top-four place

Despite the defeat in South Wales, Liverpool are still looking good for a top-four finish this season. The Reds are currently odds of 1/3 to finish in the Champions League spots, fourth favourites behind the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea to clinch a top-four spot.

Liverpool do still have their defensive weaknesses and their team is by no means perfect. However, in their dangerous front three, Jurgen Klopp’s side have enough match-winners to remain in that top-four.

It is games like the Swansea one that the forward players need their teammates to help them out sometimes. If Van Dijk had cleared the ball properly, the Merseysiders would have left south Wales with a point.

Obviously, a point was not what they came for. However, it is better than picking up nothing and it would have kept the unbeaten run going. Instead, there is now another inquest into the Reds defensive qualities.

Liverpool are no doubt good enough to finish in the top-four this season. However, if they cannot get over their tendency to lose unexpectedly, then a title triumph may just be farther away than anticipated.

Will Liverpool win the title under Jurgen Klopp?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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